Radar Networks Unveils Semantic Web App, Twine.com

Radar Networks LogoA few weeks ago I said you should keep an eye out for Radar Networks‘ work on semantic web applications. Today they’ll finally come out of stealth mode, and over the past 24 hours they’ve unveiled quite a lot of details regarding the nature of their product, Twine. From what’s been disclosed, my excitement appears justified.

Twine is a sort of knowledge management tool for the masses. Each user’s Twine home page is a sort of personal dashboard—its central feature is a list of updates not unlike the Facebook News Feed—that allows a user to import any memo, website, video, or photo from anywhere on the desktop or internet. Twine then uses semantic web technology to organize automatically all of your information by theme and then infer what other information might also interest you.

So says Wired News after a preview of Twine and an interview with Radar Networks’ founder Nova Spivack, who’s giving the public unveiling of Twine today at the Web 2.0 Summit in sunny San Francisco. Twine is a social network, slash collaborative editing tools, slash personal organizer, slash central information hub powered by AI tech to help cope with information overload. This is consistent with what I’d already gathered from hints in previous media coverage, but the full extent of the system becomes clearer in Tim O’Reilly’s article, published a few hours ago.

Underlying twine is Radar’s semantic engine, trained to do what is called entity extraction from documents. Put in plain language, the semantic engine auto-tags each document, turning each entity into what looks like a web link as well as a tag in the sidebar. Type a note in twine, and it picks out all of the people, places, companies, books, and other types of information contained in the note, separating them out by type.

Assortment of AI tech

Several screenshots from varying phases of Twine.com’s development have been released. O’Reilly has one demonstrating what he describes in the quote above, where keywords and information has been extracted from a document. How do they do that? Well, with an amazing assortment of technologies, it seems.

For one Twine mines whatever metadata may already be present in the documents it’s working with. Secondly, it runs natural language processing on the content to analyze entities and convert them to semantic tags. User tagging is also there, and according to Spivack around 80% of tags are automatically found and suggested for the user to minimize work. Additionally, Twine uses machine learning to categorize data using the 300,000 taxonomic categories of the Wikipedia for reference. Of more importance, Spivack mentions that imported data will not be locked in, it’ll be exportable with the added semantic information so that it can be reused somewhere else.

Will the Color of our Brick Road Change?

Twine.com will be in an invite-only beta phase for some time after today, but I’m sure we’ll start seeing hands-on reviews soon enough. I for one hope the system works as well as it sounds; from all the wonderful web applications that’ve debuted in the past two years, I’m continually frustrated over not having one that combines them in one place.

If Twine delivers it means we’ll be getting that cake with intelligent frosting plus a nice warm cup of IQ Cappuccino. Not to forget that its success would make a splash in semantic web development, adding a yellow brick to the road leading away from the ever-less-productive methods of modern search and data organization.

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